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Dealing with surveillent

One of the things I wanted in the new house was an intercom system. My thought was that I would have one intercom at the front door, one all the way in the outdoor office, one in the room we’d later use for a nursery (to be used as a baby monitor), and others in different rooms around the house. I was looking for something I could wire myself, so I searched for ethernet Intercom systems and found Channel Vision Intercoms. Looked pretty cool.

I was excited to find a seller would was selling the Intercom system at a pretty significantly lower price than others, as I have been trying to save money on all my special modification purchases. As with my other online purchases, I didn’t give it too much thought; just did the normal procedure: Buy with Paypal, wait for tracking number, tracked, received package…

I ordered three items. (1) I ordered the Intercom kit, which included 4 stations, the hub, and a remote control. (2) I ordered a 5th station, and (3) I ordered a front door station.

I ordered these items using Paypal on 11/13/2011, and received my receipt and order confirmation. On 11/17/2011, I received an email with a fedex tracking number letting me know that my order (3 items) had been shipped. I accepted the shipment on 11/21/2011. The first thing I noticed was that the package was missing one item, the door station. I found the email address for their customer support and sent them this message:

To: Customer Service at Surveillent.NET
Subject: Re: Order #207518 – Shipped

I received one package today containing VEN11-CVT-ST2000 and
VEN11-CVT-ST-0934.
The package did NOT contain the door intercom VEN3-CHV-IU0302C.

Were these parts shipped separately? If so, does the other package have a
tracking number? Thanks.

Later that day, I received this reply:

Hello from Surveillent

We have requested the status/shipping info from our warehouse and we will
let you know as soon as we hear back from them by replying to this email.

Our average reply time is about 3 hours however you might receive a reply in
just a few minutes or up to 2 business days. If you don’t receive a reply to
this email within 2 business days then reply to this email and let us know
you haven’t received this info yet.

Thank you,

So, I waited. After the two days, I still had not received a reply. Since I purchased these items using Paypal, I used the resolution center to report that only part of my order was received. I did not escalate the claim; I just wanted it on record that there was potentially an issue. I sent this email:

I have still not received my full order and no one has responded to the
inquiry. For my own protection, I have opened a dispute on my paypal
account. Please respond.
Thank you.

I was shocked to receive this reply:

Hello from Surveillent

Cancel the claim or we will reroute this back to us and block you from our
stores and all of our partner stores.

UPS tracking number:  –snip–

Obviously, this reply was completely unprofessional. I had every right to open a Paypal dispute at this point, because there was a legitimate issue and the seller was not communicating with me. If you are unfamiliar with Paypal, nothing bad actually happens with a dispute until you “escalate” the claim; however, you only have so many days to register a dispute. A normal customer support rep would have replied with a brief apology for the lack of communication and sent me a tracking number. Against my better judgment, I decided to close the claim, since the seller had sent me a tracking number. I replied with this message:

I have closed the claim. No need to be threatening; I am a paying customer.
Thank you for responding.

And received this reply:

Hello from Surveillent

We appreciate that but to educate you a little you should never pounce on a
claim as it can hurt you as well. Please research “badcustomer database” on
Google for more info on that. Just trying to help.

Thank you,

Again, more needless threats. Anyway, I did Google the “badcustomer database” out of curiosity. It turns out there used to be a website called badcustomer.com, where angry retailers would have a blacklist for customers. It was shut down earlier this year by the FTC and was forced to pay out $275 million for fraud (see here).

Anyway, I did not reply to this email. Figured this guy was just a pompous cyber-bully that I needed to stay away from. As long as I receive my last package that I paid for, I could let this guy’s email wash over me.

I did rate my experience on a ResellerRatings.com here. I found that many other customers had the exact same experience I did with their overly-aggressive customer support.

I also called Channel Vision customer support and was redirected to the director of national sales. I told him about my experience with a reseller of their product and sent him my email correspondence. I told him that even though I am sure they have quality products, this reseller was not representing them in a good light. He was very thoughtful and apologetic about my experience (like a normal customer support rep would be). He explained to me that he was not familiar with this reseller and that many unauthorized resellers have cropped up. He said they would find which warehouse supplies this unauthorized reseller and see what they can do in response, because he agreed that this reseller wasn’t representing their products as they would like.

Later Wednesday (11/23/2011) night, I received another unsolicited reply from this “customer support” fellow, apparently in reply to my review of my experience:

Hello from Surveillent

So you opened up a Reseller Ratings account just to review us negatively?

Tell you what we are now recording every extra labor cost we have regarding
this and every sale we lose from your review and we will see you in court
with your responsibility on the line. We will give you one business day to
remove the review off that slumblog.

Remove it NOW!

Again, I did not reply to this email or respond in any way. This is where having a spouse trained in law is nice. Julie let me know that there is no tort with anything I did, and that I have every right to review stores I shop at, and it was an empty threat. I’d have a number of counter-suits if this bully actually did try to push a frivolous lawsuit.

I am not posting this message to my blog until I have received (or not received) my last package, which is supposed to be here Tuesday, 11/29/2011.

Okay, posted now… I have received the product, so now I can put it all behind me. To be completely fair, I want to say that the prices were excellent, and I saved money by going this route. However, if I had to do it over again, it wasn’t worth the savings to have to deal with this guy. Worst online buying experience I’ve ever had. Stay away!

Have you ever had a comparable bad experience with shopping online? Please share your thoughts below.

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